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Hungary’s exit from the EU yet again on the table
"The time has come for us to seriously consider our possible exit (from the European Union),” political analyst Tamás Fritz wrote in the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet over the weekend, causing quite a stir, as the national support for EU membership in Hungary is still among the strongest within the EU, even amongst Fidesz voters.
“In July 2021, the time has come to seriously consider our possible withdrawal from a union of states which bleeds from many wounds, which is showing symptoms of imperial grandeur, and which is treating the countries of Eastern and Central Europe with spectacular arrogance,” Fritz developed.
“The globalist financial elite and the EU institutions they control - the Commission, the Parliament, the Court, and partly the European Council - are really committed to punishing Hungary,” according to Fritz.
Similar eurosceptic messages have been reiterated in recent months, by several members of the Hungarian government, including Finance Minister Mihály Varga.
Two weeks ago, he told commercial television channel ATV that he would still vote for Hungary's EU membership today, but "by the end of the decade, when we believe that Hungary will have become a net contributor to the EU, the issue could get a new perspective.”
Justice Minister Judit Varga compared the EU to an intellectual morgue at the end of July: “In Gauweiler's word - Peter Gauweiler, a politician of the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria - this EU is no longer a lender of last resort, much more an intellectual morgue, a "bunker of thought."
"There is life outside the EU," said Viktor Orbán more than once, most recently he made this blunt comment after Britain left the EU last year. The Hungarian leader expressed the very same opinion in 1999, years before joining the EU. Although the context was different, his whole political discourse illustrates that he never looked at the EU as a marriage of love, but rather as a prearranged union defined by common economic interest.
Besides its weakening Euro-Atlantic side, Fidesz has always had its eurosceptic voice in the past, and the current statements might serve only political communication, but opposition leaders were fast to condemn even the idea.
Klára Dobrev, a candidate challenging the Prime Minister, from the opposition party Democratic Coalition, argued that the article was commissioned by Viktor Orbán, and according to her, the stake in the 2022 elections is whether Hungary will remain in the European Union.
Budapest city mayor Gergely Karácsony - another candidate to become Orban’s main rival - also raised his voice, assuring that he would not allow Hungary to leave the European Union: “The precondition of Hungary's European future is guaranteed by the change of government.”
MFA vows to evacuate every Hungarian from Afghanistan and reiterates its strong opposition to welcoming refugees
"The government will get home every Hungarian from Afghanistan: safe and sound,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Tuesday night in a statement.
The statement was published after local business weekly HVG published information about at least 26 Hungarians remaining in Kabul, despite the MFA saying every Hungarian had been evacuated.
“In addition to the 26 people, in the meantime, other Hungarian citizens also contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are in constant contact with them, and we cannot disclose their exact number nor the details of their whereabouts for security reasons, ” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade acknowledged following HVG’s report.
The 26 Hungarians were part of the security staff guarding the embassy of the Netherlands in Afghanistan, according to HVG.
On Wednesday, the 26 Hungarians in question left Kabul with a C17 cargo jet, according to Magyar Hang, who spoke with a relative of one of the guards.
By Wednesday evening, they were in Tashkent, waiting to return to Budapest.
Assessing the situation in Afghanistan, the Hungarian government also restated its very firm anti-immigration position.
“When the Americans announced the pullout, the Hungarian government said this process had to unfold in such a way that Afghanistan could not once again become a hotbed of international terrorism and a source of mass migration,” State Secretary of the MFA Levente Magyar said.
In one case, however, Hungary makes an exception: the government is seriously considering how it could help those who have worked for the Hungarian teams as translators, interpreters or in other capacities over the past twenty years. We are in contact with these people and an evaluation is underway on how we could help them, Magyar added.
Human rights NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee pointed out that Poland issued humanitarian visas to Afghan citizens who have assisted Polish and EU missions in Afghanistan.
“We will not forget the Allies, especially those in greatest need,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian government is "exploring the possibility" of being able to help those who have worked for Hungarian teams as interpreters or in other capacities for the past twenty years, the NGO recalled.
“In our view, the Polish decision is exemplary in such a crisis situation. Those who have risked their lives working with our patriots are our allies and now they need our protection,” according to the NGO.
Newly appointed management of the University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) deplores the exodus of its students
Sunday, the new management of SZFE - loyal to the government, but rejected by students and teachers - deplored the massive leave of old SZFE students and accused the Freeszfe Association to “lure” the students away.
SZFE’s campus building had been occupied for months by students last fall, when they protested against the government for their university’s autonomy.
SZFE leaders resigned en masse at the end of August 2020 in protest over a new government-imposed management model which saw the university's democratically-elected senate stripped of its powers, and replaced with a board of directors full of government appointees.
The leaders argued that the restructuring occurred without any consultation with the university, and that the government had rejected all the university's nominees to the new board of directors.
On Saturday, the Freeszfe Association - launched by the teachers and students who wanted to preserve the original spirit of SZFE - announced that the film departments of SZFE, which started in 2019, would leave the university with almost full staff
They will continue their studies from September with the Freeszfe Association. When asked why the students made this decision, Judit Veszprémi, an employee of the association, explained: “These were all individual decisions. Students leaving SZFE continue their studies in the Freeszfe Association's Emergency Exit program. This means that foreign universities accredit their legal status, but training is provided by us.”
“We are not surprised, but we note with great sadness that a self-educating association irresponsibly lures SZFE students in a course that does not allow them to issue a state-recognized degree without a higher education accreditation,” SZFE said in a statement.
"This deprives them of the training opportunities of the state-accredited higher education institution, SZFE, which is renewed in all its elements and now provides an outstanding educational technical background."
Hungary's GDP jumps 17.9 pct in Q2
Hungary's gross domestic product (GDP) jumped 17.9 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, the Central Statistics Office (KSH) said in the first reading of data on Friday.
"The gross domestic product of Hungary increased by 17.9 percent according to raw data and by 17.7 percent according to seasonally and calendar adjusted and reconciled data in the 2nd quarter of 2021 compared to the corresponding period of the previous year," KSH said.
"Compared to the previous quarter, the performance of the economy grew by 2.7 percent in the 2nd quarter. The main contributor to the increase was industry," KSH added.
Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said in a message posted on Facebook that the fresh data show the economic recovery in Hungary was moving forward at a pace that was "among the fastest in the European Union (EU)”.
“The structure of growth is healthy, as it extends to a large range of economic sectors, he added.
Now our goal is to preserve the growth advantage the Hungarian economy enjoys compared to the EU, with pursuing an economic policy based on tax cuts, workplace creation, investment incentives and family support," he concluded.
Last year, the pandemic put a strong restraint on economic activity, with whole branches of the economy, mostly the service sector, coming to a halt.
Hungarian authorities managed to lift the majority of the most severe restrictions in April, thanks to a relatively high inoculation rate of the population against COVID-19, which it managed to do thanks to the use of Chinese and Russian vaccines.
Sectors that came close to a standstill such as catering and tourism were able to restart.